Mark Bell

How did the Björk collaboration come up ?

I met Björk when she was playing one of the last Sugarcubes concerts, she really wanted me to contribute to her solo album Debut but I was to busy fannying around with my own beats. She then rang up when she was doing Post but I was still fannying. Then she was doing her third Album and she asked if I’d come to Spain to work with her for a bit, I ended up staying for 5 months and then we did Homogenic.

Working with such an unconventional artist must have been a bit of a challenge. How did you work with her ?

It’s more fun than challenging, similar things move/excite us, it’s more of a team thing. I could do whatever with the music and she can sing over it straight away without hearing it once. We captured some beautiful moments like that. We worked with some brilliant musicians, like Coba, a classical Japanese accordian player. On Bacholorette he thought his part should sound like it was played by a really enthusiastic amateur, so he limited himself to three fingers on each hand so it would be a struggle for him to play, man v accordian, which was nice. Deodato the disco legend did most of the string arrangements with us ; his old 70’s album covers are a testament to his genius with his flowing locks and ladies in bikinis everywhere. Markus Dravs was brilliant to work with, he co-produced Brian Eno and he’s a crazy German Liverpudlian. Trevor Morais whose studio it was is a cool drummer who played with Kool & The Gang and loads of other great funk bands. On a morning he’d do a ‘drum school’ thing where Markus, Björk, Rebecca (lard) and me would learn the ways of funk !

How did you approach Dancer In The Dark, which probably had more constraints due to the nature of the project ?

The only constraints was the momentum and mood of the music to be locked to the film, which wasn’t that hard ‘cos it’s a great story. We also recorded with Valgeir, an Icelandic engineer/producer who was invaluable when it came to translation in the various bars and pubs. I wrote two of the songs at home before seeing any of the script, just Björk describing the scenes over the phone. Getting all the found sound samples was a laugh, recording Icelandic fish factory noises mixing it with Icelandic bra snapping rhythms.

Did you experience the tension that is said to have risen between Björk and Lars Von Tiers during the filming ?

Lars is just a wind up merchant, Björk was really vulnerable during the filming and Lars is an unrelenting teaser. Everyone’s friends now., June 2002